The Spy (2019)
Actresses who consorted with Germans during the Nazi regime have been the subject of a few biopics in recent years. Arletty A Guilty Passion depicted the French actress’s love for a Luftwaffe officer; the first thirty minutes of Hilde dealt with Hildegard Knef’s liaison with the Third Reich's adviser for films; and A Devil’s Mistress covered Lida Baarova’s two year affair with the Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Norwegian actress Sonja Wigert also fraternised with a Nazi during World War II, but her motives were purely selfless.
Though ambivalent about socialising with the Occupying Forces, Wigert’s decision to avoid a function with Goebbels and the National Commissioner for the Occupied Norwegian Territories Josef Terboven, leads to the arrest of her elderly father. Desperate to have him freed, Wigert accepts an offer from Swedish Intelligence to become a spy. With their help, the actress makes amends for her snub of the Nazi hierarchy and quickly becomes Terboven’s mistress. Though her priority remains her father’s welfare, Swedish Intelligence insist she focus on finding the identity of an enemy agent, code-named ‘Maria’.
Ostensibly an espionage thriller, The Spy makes good use of the much-maligned biopic trope of narration to clarify the machinations at play. Drolly provided by Rolf Lassgård, who portrays the head of Swedish Intelligence Thorsten Akrell, it subtly reveals the consequences of Wigert’s actions from the very outset. In this role, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal capably transitions from carefree actress to cautious spy, though the need to present a false façade lends a certain remoteness to her portrayal.
Her best scenes are those in which Wisgert lets her guard down opposite Hungarian diplomat Andor Gellért. Though we have witnessed numerous scenes of Wisgert putting herself in harm’s way, the inherent danger of her activities is best brought to the fore when it encroaches upon this relationship. The film’s coda reveals the fate of these two lovers, as well as an explanation for Akrell’s opening remarks. For unlike an actress, there is no applause waiting for the spy.
Biopic depicts Wigert receiving an invitation to a function attended by Goebbels and Verboven shortly after the premier of Kjærlighet og vennskap. However the film was released in August 1941, whereas the function took place in November 1940.
Alexander Kielland’s novel 'Elsie: A Christmas Story' was not adapted into a film starring Sonja Wigert.
Biopic features a brief scene recreation from Kjærlighet og vennskap.